Data Recovery from noisy Western Digital Caviar hard disk drives

WD Caviar ”SE” series model numbers: WD2500JB, WD2000JB, WD1600JB, WD1200JB, WD800JB, WD400JB

WD Caviar ”EIDE” series model numbers: WD2500BB, WD2000BB, WD1600BB, WD1200BB, WD800BB, WD400BB, WD200BB

WD Caviar ”LB” series model numbers: WD1200LB, WD1800LB, WD2000LB


  • A loss of data becomes noticeable on bootup and may prevent the system from starting all together.
  • The hard disk is not or is intermittently identified in the BIOS although it is entirely possible in less severe cases that the drive will always be recognised in the BIOS but data access is impossible.
  • The hard disk makes a loud and very distinctive clicking noise.
  • The drive will start with an inconsistent spin speed dependant on which part of the self test is in progress.

Download wd250jb.m4a  >

Often, drive failure becomes apparent at initialisation. As the drive powers up it performs a series of tests on each one of the heads, these tests determine functionality of each head in use. The drive initiates a read test on each platter, if this attempt fails the drive retries numerous times resulting in a knocking sound when the assembly hits against the limiting stop device. The noise the drive is making in the audio file above is from a severe malfunction where all of the read/write heads are faulty. In some other cases (more common in the lower capacity drives) a similar knocking sound can be heard if the firmware of the drive has encountered problems and is attempting to use the wrong heads for initialisation. These symptoms are also extremely similar to those of a severe head crash, serious head crashes in these drives are not common.

Recovery possibilities: Data Clinic are often able to perform a full data recovery on these Western Digital Caviar drives with the above symptoms in all cases where the heads have not caused extensive damage to the media.

Do Not: Under no circumstances should you attempt to swap the controller board on one of these faulty drives with one from a working drive. This is because the information held on the failed drive is unique to each drive. Changing the controller board may very well cause a mechanical failure and render your recoverable data unrecoverable. We also advise that once a disk has started to display these symptoms that it is powered down immediately to prevent damage to the drive data.

What if I have one of these drives but the symptoms are different?: This is quite possible. These drives are still prone to all the other problems hard disks suffer from ie. mechanical failure, logical failure, bad sectors etc.

Call us on 0800 151 2207 for advice.